From Ocala/Marion County's thoroughbred farms and training centers, to world class bloodstock auctions, and the excitement at the state’s racetracks and ITW simulcasting, Florida has it all!
Florida Equines Impact - $11.7 Billion - 387,000 horses - 113,000 jobs - 717,000 acres of land used by equines; - 112,000 volunteers
Florida is the third most populous horse state (behind only larger-sized states Texas and California)
Florida Thoroughbred Impact - ; $2.7 Billion - 99,000 thoroughbreds in Florida - 1 in 4 horses in Florida is a thoroughbred - 23,000 jobs
Florida’s Thoroughbred farms and training centers have produced 52 National Champions, 6 Kentucky Derby winners, 7 Preakness Stakes winners, 6 Belmont Stakes winners, 28 Breeders’ Cup champions 6 Horses of the Year, 66 Eclipse Award winners, and 170 Racehorse Millionaires (as of Dec. 31, 2018).
Florida has produced more Kentucky Derby winners than any state outside Kentucky with Needles in 1956, Carry Back (’61), Foolish Pleasure (’75), Unbridled (’90), Silver Charm (’97) and the 11th Triple Crown winner Affirmed in 1978. Triple Crown champion American Pharoah also has Florida ties with his historical Florida bloodlines including Florida-bred Classic champion Unbridled. The horse also spent his early training days in Citra, part of Florida’s breeding region hub in Marion County. Florida-bred Dr. Fager still holds the world record for the mile on dirt.
Florida is host to championship caliber racing at Gulfstream Park, Gulfstream Park West and Tampa Bay Downs where 20,000 thoroughbreds annually compete.
Florida-breds in 2018 (All Races) - 34,612 Starts: 4,413 Wins; 4,432 Seconds; 4,497 Thirds - Total Earnings: $109,306,827
Florida-breds in 2018 (Stakes) - 1,307 Starts: 178 Wins; 154 Seconds; 171 Thirds - Total Stakes Earnings: $20,704,431
Horse Capital of the World® Impact – $2.3 Billion – 80,000 horses/ponies - 37,290 thoroughbreds – 21,000 jobs – 195,000 acres
Florida is home to more than 750 Thoroughbred farms and training centers, with more than 75 percent of these in and surrounding Ocala in Marion County, Florida. Marion County Florida carries the moniker Horse Capital of the World. The county has more horses/ponies than any other in the U.S., 35% of Florida’s horses are in the county and 46% of thoroughbreds. More than 15,000 thoroughbred train annually in Florida thanks to the mild winters, grasses rich with limestone and spring fed aquifers. Equines cover more than 70,000 acres of Florida’s prime, mineral-rich pastures.
The concentration of the thoroughbred breeding and training industry in the Ocala/Marion County area is strongly supported by a network of equine services and specialists, such as veterinarians, feed and tack retailers, blacksmiths, equine dentists, and major horse transportation companies.
The oldest active thoroughbred farm in the state is Ocala Stud founded in 1956 and standing on the farm is the oldest equine wooden barn still in use and the first swimming pool in the United States for horses.
The Florida Thoroughbred Breeders' and Owners' Association is also located in Ocala. The FTBOA administers the state breeders' incentive program and is responsible for promoting the Florida thoroughbred industry. Since 1945, Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association (FTBOA) has represented the Thoroughbred industry by administering awards programs for Florida-Bred racehorses and promoting the industry to the rest of the country and the world. More than 1,500 members strong, FTBOA is active in pertinent issues facing the local and national Thoroughbred industries. FTBOA also established the moniker Ocala/Marion County Horse Capital of the World which is used to promote the region and its equine services. The FTBOA also owns Florida Equine Communications (FEC), publisher of the award-winning monthly magazine The Florida Horse. FEC also produces Wire to Wire, a daily Central Florida thoroughbred digest; Wire to Wire.net, the local thoroughbred auction pub; Horse Capital Digest, an official horse show publication and Horse Capital Television. Wire to Wire Daily Racing Digest is published in Marion County to promote the thoroughbred industry – the only printed daily of any breeding region in the world. In 2015, FTBOA was awarded Florida Association of the Year by the Florida Society of Association Executives and the Non-Profit of the Year by the Ocala/Marion County Chamber and Economic Partnership, a prestigious honor considering there are over 1,000 non-profits in the county.
Ocala is home to the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company, which hosts bloodstock auctions throughout the year and the top two-year-old in training sales in the world. Sales of thoroughbreds at Ocala Breeders’ Sales from 2010 to 2018 was $1 Billion. OBS also operates an ITW simulcasting theater and hosts races a day or two annually.
The county is also home to Florida Thoroughbred Charities which raises funds for the Florida Thoroughbred Retirement Farm Second Chances at Lowell Correctional. The program is the only female program in the country partnering inmates with retired thoroughbreds.
Thoroughbreds in Marion County
Thoroughbreds are 56% of the overall economic impact of equines in Marion County. More than 51% of the equine jobs in Marion County are attributed to thoroughbreds. All these factors make Ocala one of only four major epicenters of thoroughbred breeding and training centers in the world.
Diversity in breeds and disciplines
In addition to thoroughbreds, the county also contains one of the most diverse population of horse breeds, disciplines, emerging disciplines, event venues and equine opportunities. Central Florida Paso Fino production is number one in the United States. Typically ranking second or third in foal crop in North America for thoroughbreds, Florida ranks below worldwide perennial leader and Thoroughbred Capital of the World, Lexington, Kentucky.
Number of acres devoted to the equine industry is 195,000 (171,000 owned, 24,000 leased).
Economic Impact Studies
Grow Florida - America’s Thoroughbred Capital: Farther South Than You Think
2018 Equine Economic Impact - Florida
Florida Economic Impact – Thoroughbreds
Florida Economic Impact – All Equine
Florida Economic Impact – By Sector
Economic Impact Study presentation 2016
2015 CEP Marion County Equine Economic Impact Study
2015 CEP Press Release on Marion County Equine Economic Impact Study
2014 Florida Horse Racing Economic Impact Study
2015 Florida Thoroughbred Industry Video
JOCKEY CLUB – Florida Fact Book Resource Guide
Home of Champions
Florida’s Thoroughbred farms and training centers have produced 52 National Champions, 6 Kentucky Derby winners, 7 Preakness Stakes winners, 6 Belmont Stakes winners, 28 Breeders’ Cup champions 6 Horses of the Year, 66 Eclipse Award winners, and 170 Racehorse Millionaires (as of Dec. 31, 2018)
(Left) Florida Champion Roman Brother becomes a Chamber of Commerce member